an anon prompt on tumblr where they asked Alice telling Matthew she was pregnant in canon (touche, anon, touche, you know I live and breathe AUs). set about a year after the telemovie, but before the new one set to come out.
much thanks to Leah and Ariel for being sounding boards during all of this (as well as hearing all my bitching about recovering from surgery lmao, I love you guys)
Alice was a careful person. She had to be in a world that scrutinized her every move, looking for a flaw, waiting for an opportune time to say "I told you so, women can't be doctors".
(Which was absurd, some of the best doctors Alice came across were women.)
She planned her life meticulously, the care she took in her professional life carrying over into her personal one. She was not good with children, never had been, and never had the desire to have any of her own. Alice was careful.
Evidently, not careful enough.
"Run it again."
"I have, Alice."
"Run it again!" she demanded, her hands shaking as she swayed where she stood.
Lucien gingerly reached out and guided her to a stool in the morgue when she didn't protest. "I had the lab run it three times to be sure, Alice. The results are the same."
Alice buried her head in her hands, "How?"
"I daresay you know very well how, Alice." Lucien smiled and put up his hands to calm her when she raised her head to glare at him. "It's not uncommon for a woman of your age to go through this."
"I thought I was sick with the flu, not pregnant!" To her added frustration, tears welled up in her eyes; Alice tried to blink them away, but a few fell. "I can't… Lucien, I never wanted children."
Lucien sat on the stool next to her, his hand smoothing over her back. "I know, Alice."
"What am I going to do?"
"I suppose you'll have to tell the father and the two of you decide what's best."
Alice buried her head in her hands, "I don't know where to start. I don't know if I want this child and if I do, I don't know how to take care of one… they don't exactly teach child-rearing in medical school."
"Only how to deliver them," Lucien smiled even as Alice narrowed her eyes at him. Unperturbed, Lucien smoothed his hand over Alice's shoulders. "Tell you what, it's lunch time. Why don't you come over and… ask your questions to Jean? You can even take the rest of the day off if you'd like, Alice."
"Do you think it would help?"
"I think in the very least you'll be armed with more information to make a decision. Jean might even be able to help you figure out how to tell Matthew."
Alice's head shot up and she covered her mouth with a trembling hand, "Lucien-"
He held his hands up in a placating manner, "I won't breathe a word to him, Alice, I promise."
She reached out and grasped his hand tightly, "Thank you."
"You're welcome, Alice. Now, let's get some food in you, it'll probably make you feel better."
Her stomach filled with Jean's delicious food (her appetite had resurfaced with a vengeance the second she crossed the Blake threshold), and armed with a steaming cup of tea, Alice sat at the kitchen table in a comforting silence with Jean. Mrs. Blake worked on mending, while Lucien had absconded to the surgery for that afternoon's patients.
"Penny for your thoughts, Alice?" Jean asked quietly, her eyes on her mending.
Alice sighed and idly traced the rim of the teacup with her finger. "I… I don't know how to say it."
"Whenever you're ready, Alice, there's no rush to get it out if you're not comfortable."
She took a sip of the tea and looked up at Jean. They'd gotten a little closer over the past couple of years or so; Alice getting invited more often to dinner after that… awkward one with Lucien's former wife, Jean also showed up more at the police station after her wedding to Lucien and so their paths crossed lately. Since her and Matthew had started seeing each other shortly before Lucien and Jean's wedding, Alice viewed the Blake household as a sort of second home. Alice didn't have many friends, but she hoped that Jean could possibly become one of them.
If she decided to keep the baby, Alice had a feeling she'd need her guidance more than ever.
"I'm... " Alice let out an irritated sigh, "Oh, I should just get this over with, honestly… I'm pregnant, Jean."
The mending dropped to the table as Jean stared at her with wide eyes. "You're sure?"
Alice nodded, "Lucien ran the tests three times… all positive."
"How far along?"
"About 6-8 weeks according to both our calculations," Alice shrugged. She put her head in her hands, "Oh, Jean… I've always been careful. Always, always!"
She felt Jean's hand wrap around her forearm gently, "Sometimes this just happens, Alice."
"Not to me," Alice bemoaned. "I don't know what to do."
Jean's thumb rubbed comforting circles into her arm. "Well… there are options."
She looked up and saw the turmoil on Jean's face. Jean might not believe in some of those options available to pregnant women, but she was trying to be helpful to Alice and a light feeling bloomed in her chest. Dropping one arm to the table, Alice slid her hand under Jean's and held on tight.
Alice shook her head, "I can't consider some of those options, even if I'm not sure I want this baby. There are very few doctors I could even think of asking, but I won't ask them to commit a crime because of my… slip up. And it's not the baby's fault I'm in this predicament."
"So, either you'll keep it or…?"
"Adoption? I don't know."
Jean squeezed her hand, "Alice, have you told Matthew?"
"No, not yet," she sighed. "I thought it was a more aggressive strain of the flu before Lucien got the test results back… I don't know how to tell him."
"Would you like my advice?"
Jean smiled, "You'll have to be straightforward with him. Get him a whiskey, sit him down and just tell him: 'Matthew, I'm pregnant'."
"You make it sound so easy."
"Maybe not easy, but a lot like ripping off a plaster in one go. He'll be shocked, but then he'll know and you two can discuss what'll happen next."
Alice stared at her cup of tea for a long while - her hand still wrapped up in Jean's and oddly enough she didn't feel like pulling away just yet. Jean had taken some of her jumbled thoughts about this unexpected expectancy and smoothed them out with a practiced hand. Their talk hadn't quelled all of her worries, but it had given her a smaller goal to work towards until she was on more sure footing with all of this.
Tell Matthew; go from there. Simple enough.
"Will he… do you think he'll want to… do the right thing, Jean?"
"You mean ask you to marry him?" Jean continued when Alice nodded, "He might. Matthew is a bit traditional in his values, but I know you two have been seeing each other since the wedding… so he might surprise you, Alice. Do you want him to?"
"To ask me? I don't think I want him doing it just because of the baby… if we decide to keep it, that is. I don't want him to think he has to do it out of a sense of honor."
"But if he asked you not because of the baby?"
Alice shrugged, "I've never been the marrying type, Jean… No one's ever wanted to marry me, but, it does sound… nice with Matthew."
Jean smiled and squeezed her hand, "Then I think you have your answer."
Alice smiled back, a little wobbly, a little unsure, but a smile nonetheless. "Jean… can I ask you questions about the pregnancy? I know the medical side, but…"
"Going through one is very different, I understand. Of course you can, Alice, and if you and Matthew decide to keep the baby, you can ask questions about that too."
"Jean, you are an angel."
Jean threw back her head and laughed brightly, "So I've heard, Alice, so I've heard. Now, would you like to help me prepare for dinner tonight and would you like to stay?"
Alice nodded, the light feeling in her chest expanding at Jean's smile. In the very least, Jean and Lucien would be here for her.
Dinner with the Blakes was just as lively as ever. Lucien drew them all in to a discussion of the case he, Matthew, and Danny were currently working on, while Rose tried to get information out of all of them, and Jean and Alice just laughed at the banter. Oh, Alice did join in when it suited her, but tonight she mostly sat back and let the others talk. Jean kept her plate full, and Lucien made sure she got enough water throughout the night. Alice wasn't used to this kind of doting and while it rankled her independence some, she liked that they cared about her.
She could feel Matthew's eyes on her at times; his gaze roving over her face as she talked with Jean and his niece or provided counter theories to Lucien's ideas. Under the table, she felt him reach out and squeeze her knee lightly. Catching his hand before it slipped away, Alice held it briefly and smiled at him softly before she let it go. Nerves fluttered in her stomach at what she had to tell him tonight; Alice hoped she wouldn't lose the man she'd come to care a lot about over the past year.
Alice valued Matthew's company. They'd eased into a quiet companionship since his return to Ballarat, and by the Blake wedding, it'd turned romantic. She enjoyed spending time with him and being with him; she hoped the idea of a child with her wouldn't chase him away for good.
She wasn't sure if she could take it, not from him.
Alice had been unusually quiet the past few days, Matthew noted. It wasn't that she usually filled the air with words like Lucien did, but Alice's quiet had been pensive as of late and he worried. She'd been sick since last week and he hadn't been around her place as much (Alice said they couldn't afford both the pathology registrar and the chief superintendent of police to be out with whatever it was she'd caught); the dinner with the Blakes tonight was the first time Matthew had seen her outside of work in a few days.
She looked better than she had, and Matthew couldn't help but watch her throughout dinner. He thought of the small box in the drawer of his bedside table and nerves fluttered under his ribcage at what he wanted to ask Alice once she got better. Reaching out to squeeze her knee lightly, he smiled when Alice held it and gave him a smile. He hoped his question wouldn't ruin what they had between them; if Alice refused, Matthew wouldn't ask again and he'd stay with her in whatever way worked for the two of them.
After dinner, Danny walked Rose out (and presumably wouldn't be back for some time, Matthew might have to have a talk with Parks at some point), Jean roped Lucien into helping her clean up, and Alice poured him a couple of fingers of whiskey.
"Thank you, sweetheart," he smiled and kissed her cheek when she handed him the glass (her hands were shaking - tremors from being sick?)
"Matthew," Alice twisted her hands in front of her and she glanced over her shoulder to the kitchen where the Blakes were making a racket. "Could… could we talk somewhere private?"
"Of course," He led her to his bedroom and gestured for her to sit on the bed as he closed the door behind him. "What's the matter?"
Alice's hands were a knot in her lap and she refused to look at him, "Sit, please, Matthew, I know you're tired."
"Alice…" Matthew sat next to her on the bed and covered her hands with one of his. "What's wrong?"
Alice opened her mouth, but no sound came out. She cleared her throat, looked up at him, and tried again, "There's something I need to tell you."
"What is it?"
To his surprise, tears welled up in her eyes. She swiped at them with her hands as a few escaped. "You… you know that I haven't been feeling well lately?"
"Well, it's not the flu like I thought," Alice let out a shaky laugh that held no mirth. He put a hand on her shoulder and felt her shaking. "It's… oh, why is this so hard?"
He squeezed her shoulder lightly, "Take a deep breath, Alice." When she did as he asked, Matthew took her hand in his, "Now, what's causing you to feel unwell?"
Alice drew both of her lips into her mouth and chewed on them in thought. She held onto his hand tightly, "Mathew… I'm… Matthew, I'm pregnant."
The glass of whiskey almost slipped from his fingers, but he caught it before it fully hit the floor. Putting it down on the bedside table, Matthew gathered Alice's hands in his own. He couldn't tell who was shaking more, Alice or himself.
"Pregnant?" he whispered.
Alice nodded, "Lucien… Lucien ran it three times to be sure."
"And he is sure?"
She nodded again, "My… symptoms do match with common ones of pregnancy, but I assume it's very easy to think it something else before the test."
"How… I thought we were careful, Alice."
"We were," Alice squeezed his hands and looked down at her lap, "but not careful enough, it seems."
"Life has a way of going awry," he leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "How are you feeling, sweetheart?"
Alice shrugged, "I never wanted children and now… this… I don't know. I don't know if I want to keep it or give it up once its born, I don't know if you want a child."
"I honestly thought I'd never get the chance and it wasn't something I sought out in my youth."
"What are we going to do?" Alice asked, her eyes glassy with tears.
Matthew reached out and gently wiped away a tear as it fell down her cheek. "I don't know, Alice, but whatever it is, we'll do it together."
More tears fell and he pulled her into his arms. Alice let out a strangled sob, "I'm scared, Matthew."
"Why, sweetheart?" Matthew tightened his arms around her as she cried into his shoulder.
"I don't… I don't want this to change what's between us," she sniffed, her hands clutching at his back as he gently rocked them in an effort to soothe her. "If we keep the baby, I know nothing of raising a child, of being a good mother. I'm scared of the pregnancy as a whole, of giving birth, of just… everything to do with this baby. I love you, Matthew, please don't leave."
He'd never seen her this distraught, ever. Pressing a kiss to the crown of her head, Matthew rested his cheek on her hair. "Why would I leave you?"
"Because I'm me and now I'm having a baby you probably don't even want to have."
"Sweetheart," he cradled her face in his hands, his thumbs brushing away the tears as they fell. "I love you because you're you. I loved you before the baby came along and I still love you now. I'm not going anywhere."
"I'm staying right here," Matthew kissed her forehead and then gently kissed her on the lips. She kissed him back, her hands curling around his wrists.
Breaking the kiss, Matthew pulled her back into his arms. "We'll figure all this out together, Alice. You won't have to do this alone."
She sighed and sagged in his embrace as though a great weight lifted from her shoulders. "I don't even know where to begin."
"Nothing a good night's sleep can't fix. Why don't you stay here tonight?" Alice sat up abruptly at his suggestion and he just smiled. "Nothing untoward, sweetheart, it's already too late for that. You're tired, I'm tired, and I'd feel better if you were here."
Alice's cheeks colored a little at his joke, but she smiled for the first time since telling him about the pregnancy. Nodding, she squeezed his hand, "You're right."
"I'll lend you something to wear," he pressed a kiss to her cheek and stood with a groan. Fishing about for his extra set of pajamas, Matthew handed them over. "I'll let you get changed while I go tell Jean you're staying the night."
Alice nodded again and wordlessly took the sleepwear from him. With one last smile, Matthew limped from his room - untouched whiskey in hand - and out to the parlor where the Blakes were sharing a nightcap before bed.
"Matthew, everything alright?" Jean asked, noticing him first.
He nodded with a smile, "I, uh… Alice is going to stay the night. I just wanted to give you a heads up for the morning."
Jean stood and walked over to him, her hands resting on his upper arms. "She told you?" she asked quietly. At Matthew's nod, Jean smiled, "Good. This throws a bit of a wrench in your plan, doesn't it?"
Jean had been the one he'd turned to when getting the small jewelry box for Alice - as well as help him figure out the appropriate size and style. Matthew ducked his head, but he smiled. "Mm, a little. I still want to ask her."
"Good, I'm happy for both of you. I'll add an extra head to breakfast if she's feeling up for it."
"Ask Alice what?" Lucien asked from the couch.
Matthew downed his whiskey in one go, smiling faintly when Jean took the glass from his hand. "I was planning on asking Alice to marry me, Lucien."
"Matthew Lawson, you dog," his oldest friend grinned.
"I'm still going to, so not one word," he threatened. His words held little bite, he knew that both of the Blakes were happy for him and it eased the worry in his mind over the decisions he and Alice had to make.
Lucien grinned and put his hands up, "She won't hear of it from me, my dear friend. By the way, Alice can take the day if she'd like, I know she wasn't feeling well even before all this. I'll clear it with the hospital."
"I'll pass on the message, but, uh, I should let you two enjoy your night."
Bidding farewell to his friends, Matthew returned to his bedroom. Alice had changed out of her clothes and already slipped beneath the covers of his bed - a book propped open on her knees. Closing the door behind him, Matthew watched her with a smile.
"Don't worry, I kept your place," she spoke without looking up.
"I wasn't," he limped over to her and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "Jean and Lucien know you're staying over. She'll include you in breakfast if you're up to it and Lucien said you could take the day tomorrow."
Alice smiled fondly, "Sometimes I wonder how I got through life without either of those two."
Matthew laughed softly and changed out of his clothes into his pajamas; he eased into the bed next to her and sighed. "They certainly make it better, don't they?"
She smiled and gently put the book back on his bedside table. He turned out the light as she settled against his side - her hand curling around his arm. "Matthew?"
"Things are going to change, aren't they?"
"They are, but I'll be with you every step of the way."
Alice grew quiet, but her hand tightened around his arm. "I'm glad it's you," she whispered. "I mean, the situation's not exactly ideal and there's… a lot to figure out, but I'm glad you're here."
"We'll figure it out," he shifted to lay on his side and curled an arm around her waist, "starting tomorrow." Matthew smiled at her soft laugh and held her closer.
He pressed a kiss to her forehead, "Tomorrow."
Tomorrow, they would figure out what to do. Tomorrow, they would talk. Tomorrow, he might even ask the question burning in his heart and bring out that small box in his bedside table that called out to him like a siren of old.
Tomorrow, their world changed. But tonight Matthew basked in Alice's presence and the small, unexpected life growing within her. Tomorrow would bring more questions and answers, but for tonight, Matthew welcomed the quiet.